The Facebook Parable – Our Generation’s Folly

So, on my first day of my 1000 level Anthropology class our professor shared an anecdote with us from his time as a student at some west ( or was it east? ) coast school. I forget the name. Basically, there was this one really tough chemistry – or possibly biology, maybe also philosophy – teacher who was a total atheist and promised that by the end of his course no one would believe in God. He spent the whole semester undermining God and stuff and then on the last day of class before dead week, or possibly Christmas break, he asked if anyone still believed in God. When my professor’s friend stood up, the professor lost his shit and screamed in a totally unprofessional and borderline illegal manner “YOU FOOL! If YOUR GOD actually existed, He would stop this chalk from breaking.” Then, just as he was about to drop the chalk on the floor it did this weird little wiggle thing, and fell to the ground via the professor’s ridiculously expensive and now completely chalked suit alighting safely and in one piece on the tile, or concrete, or wood, or possibly linoleum, floor. Then, completely humiliated, my professor’s professor booked it the heck out of there and the brave student shared the Good News with his entire class of between 90-300 students.

The Atheist Professor - He's so nutty.

Except he didn’t. According to snopes this story is likely almost 100 years old, possibly originating in 1920’s Pennsylvania.

These sorts of stories have CLEARLY been around for years. We used to called them parables, and they taught largely the same lessons about faith, righteousness and goodly reward. This story is most closely related to David and Goliath and presents the same moral: The little guy can beat the really big, strong, clearly superior guy if he ( the little guy ) has God on his side. And stuff.

The problem is, we now live in this instant world where we can consume, produce, and share a vast quantity of information in seconds.

You probably remember that I don’t like facebook very much. And you probably remember why because, if I’m honest, I’m one of those people. The vegan/ran a marathon/virgin until marriage/owns a bicycle instead of a car/adopts rescue dogs/macowner/adopted children sort of people: I will tell you exactly what I’m doing and why, and I won’t shut up about it. ( In fairness, I’ve only ever been a vegetarian, done the bicycle thing and owned an iPod/Phone/Pod Touch. So I’m not that terrible. ) But I feel justified this time. Facebook has become a vehicle for endlessly shared, liked and praised chain letters like the one above. The stories are always cheesy, far-fetched, poorly-sourced and guaranteed to show you what a terrible person ( READ: Christian ) you are if you don’t redistribute them to your friends. I know I should just delete from my feed and move on, but I saw a truly wonderful response today and I couldn’t pass up this opportunity to share it with you.

I’m sure you’ve seen the story about the doctor with the recently-dead kid who gets chewed out by a patient’s father. I present to you my friend Tae’s interpretation of this heartwarming/tear-jerking/circle-jerking tale:

I don't even know wtf is going on in this picture but this is what the original story was attached to, so I thought you should see it.

A doctor entered the hospital in a hurry after being called in for an urgent surgery. He answered the call ASAP, changed his clothes and went directly to the surgery block.
He found the boy’s father waiting in the hall. Upon seeing him, the dad yelled: “Bro wtf my son is dying where the fuck were you?”

The doctor smiled and said: “I am sorry bro, now calm the fuck down.”

“Calm down? What if your son was in that room right now DYING – would you calm down? If your own son died, what would you do? OH WAIT HE’S ALREADY DEAD FUCKIN LOL [ SPOILER ]” said the father angrily.

The doctor smiled again and replied: “I will quote an overused Bible verse to use this story as thinly-veiled Christian propaganda by attempting to turn this whole exchange into a very poorly written parable.”

“Hurry the hell up and heal my son,” murmured the father.

The surgery took many hours, after which the doctor went out happily.

“Thank God! Your son is saved!”

And without waiting for the father’s reply the doctor carried on his way, running out of the hospital only pausing to yell over his shoulder, “If you have any questions about how to treat people in the Christian sense, don’t read the Bible; use these poorly written parables as a reference instead!”

“Why is this story so badly written? Why couldn’t he wait so I could ask about my son’s condition?” the father questioned the nurse.

The nurse answered, tears streaming down her face: “His son died yesterday in an accident, he was at the burial when we called him in for your son’s surgery. For some reason, we keep our ER doctors on call when they’re attending their family’s funerals. And now that he saved your son’s life, he left running to finish his son’s burial or play mini-golf. Probably mini-golf.”

The man was astounded by the idiocy of the people who found out about these values of life through these parables, even though the Bible has similar messages throughout most of the book. As the man thought this through while walking back to the parking lot, his son was hit by an ambulance and killed just cuz lol.

NEVER JUDGE ANYONE because you never know how their life is, what is happening, or what they are going through. Even if they murder your family, piss all over your face, and perform satanic rituals in your living room.

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Zombies, Run!

Zombies, Run! is an ultra-immersive running game for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and Android…”

It is also the single most expensive app I’ve ever purchased having already cost me over $150 and more than a full 24 hours worth of work.

And it’s totally worth it. Let me explain:

Backstory: I own an iPhone 3GS. Because AT&T sucks – they wanted almost $1000 for me to get a phone line with them a year and a half ago when I bought my phone – it is jailbroken to T-Mobile; that’s awesome for me and my wallet but super inconvenient for updating my iOS and means that I couldn’t install the $8 game and fitness app Zombies, Run! because it requires iOS 5 or higher and I’m on 4.2.1. I did some researching and decided that it was safe to upgrade my phone. ( To be clear, when I say “research” I mean that I did one google search and scanned the first page that came up. )

Figure 1.1 - It was not this bad, the cracks only extended about halfway up the screen and the LCD was undamaged so it was completely usable

Turns out it wasn’t safe. And oh my gosh. My phone was completely destroyed. I spent 15 hours the first day and another 6 or seven the second trying to get everything to work again – just so I could make phone calls! Turns out I had to re-update my baseband to make things okay. Eventually I just gave up and downgraded – another five hours of research and finnicking and creating a custom signed firmware package ( if you ever need iPhone Jailbreaking help, I may be able to do something for you, let me know ) – back to 4.2.1. My phone now works beautifully again and everything is at peace. But that still leaves me without this app that I really want.

So I decided to buy a secondhand iPod Touch ( See 1.1 for dramatization. ). I bought an 8GB iPod Touch 4 for $75 including a case and some Hello Kitty earphones that I never got. It had a cracked screen but I thought “Ah, no problem. I’ll just take this to the kiosk in the mall that replaces screens.” They replaced it for me – for $80. They promised 3 days at the longest for me to have my shiny new iPod. 7 days later I got my iPod. 6 days after that the LCD cracked ( see figure 1.2 for actual photo ). So to review: I paid $80 to wait a week for those ridiculous crooks to first render my iPod UNUSABLE and second to say “Ah, well we have no guarantee so it’ll be another $80 if you want to re-fix it.” I took it to Shop B, they said “Why did that store use such cheap parts?”

To be clear: I did not drop or do anything terrible to my iPod. I even bought the freaking case that the first shop – who robbed me blind – suggested would protect my ‘pod. As far as I can figure the only things that could have caused the screen to crack would be either when it fell to the carpeted floor in the pocket of my jeans from about knee level when I was getting undressed or when I actually put it in my pocket as I have done with my iPhone for the past year and a half with no issue.

Shop B has offered to fix it for me for $60 after I told them of my plight – but I don’t know if they will still honor that as it’s been more than a month now. I haven’t been able to afford the money because of other and more necessary bills.

So my Zombies, Run! game has cost me the $8 of the App, $75 for the iPod, $80 for the trash screen repair, $10 for headphones because I really wanted to play it immediately, plus a future $60 for another screen repair bringing the total to a depressing $233. For the record, I could have ALMOST purchased a BRAND NEW 32GB iPod Touch for that price.

Figure 1.2 - a totally destroyed Nyan Cat.

But I’m still going to get the screen fixed again. Why? Because Zombies, Run! is the ONLY app I have ever purchased that I feel is worth that amount of money. It is an incredibly fun game that makes me anticipate and enjoy running. Me. Super un-fit, has-spent-her-whole-life-avoiding-anything-faster-than-a-brisk-walk-me now not looks forward to running as soon as she gets home just to play the next mission or even just listen to the radio and the adorable couple that broadcasts them. Or, I would. If I could play it.

The whole reason I wanted this app in the first place is because of my dire fear of zombies. I experience legitimate terror whenever I see or hear zombies. Playing this game I get a true and horrifying adrenaline rush that pushes me further than I’ve EVER been able to go. I can run longer – still a ridiculously short amount of time, but it’s about starting, trying and improving, you know? – and harder than I have ever been able to and that is wholly due to this app and my fear.

I want to Run For My Life in December. That’s a 5k obstacle course where you are chased by zombies. I also want to get fit. I want to be happy with my body, I want to be healthy, and I want to be able to run up 3 flights of stairs to my Chinese class so I won’t be late without arriving gasping for air. So far Zombies, Run! is the only way that has been working for me. I HIGHLY recommend it to you. Just…maybe make some better financial choices than I did.

To Summarize: I will have spent over $200 for this app, and I would do it again. IT IS AMAZING. You should buy it, play it, and get fit.

And be careful with that Runner 8 – I still don’t trust her.

ZOMBIES, RUN! – 5 out of 5 stars